Whale sightings on the rise around NYC

Posted on 3 June 2019

Few would imagine that America’s most populated urban area would be a prime spot for whale watching. Yet, there are now hundreds to see off the coast of New York City in the now clean, rich feeding waters.

Whale sightings off the coast of New York City have risen from a mere five in 2011 to almost 300 in 2018.


The cause of this increase in sightings is uncertain. Experts from the NPO Gotham Whales say that efforts to clean up pollution flowing from the Hudson river into the sea and Acts to protect endangered marine life are to thank for it.

The river now brings nutrients as opposed to pollution to the city’s coast. This feeds algae, which attracts Menhaden fish. Whales, especially humpbacks, rely on these fish as food.


Tourists can see the whales of the Big Apple from the city’s edge as well as from the water. Gotham Whales has partnered with American Princess Cruises to provide whale-watching cruises during the summer months.

The whale sightings on the cruise are tallied and the data is given to Gotham Whales, which keeps a tab on sighting figures.


They identify the whales by their tails, which is like a fingerprint – each has its own pattern and colours. They add the new individuals to their existing catalogue.

The cruise company now reports a 90% sighting rate of a whale and/or dolphin. The trips have been running from May to November for the past nine years.


A four-hour cruise costs just over R700 for an adult and leaves from Riis Landing in Queens, New York City.

In 2016, a whale entered the New York harbor and swam up the Hudson river. A regular, Jerry, has been spotted each year since 2012 in many places along the coast.


Feature Image: Artie Raslich/ NYC Whale Photographer.

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